20 years ago yesterday two guys in garage decided to improve the way we find information on the internet and Google was born. I remember exactly where I was when I first heard the word Google. It was used as a verb in a geeky seminar I attended in 2000 on XML (extensible mark-up language) data interchange, as in, "So I googled it."
I made a note in the margin of a page to look up 'google' on Alta Vista. I never used Alta Vista again. I never again wrote Google without capitalisation.
Google has globally democratised information (Search), navigation (Maps), communications (gmail and Blogger), translation (Translate), and intellectual and social interaction (YouTube) in ways we could not then imagine. To a large extent, Google drove global adoption of the internet as an essential requirement for 21st century work, life, love, and education.
I recognise that I am blessed by Google as an historian. Difficult and rarely used Latin words and phrases come to life in every text in their original context where they were published when I Google them. Google confirmed to me that Clangendoque at line 100 of the Carmen was both a unique usage and a Googlewhack (unique occurrence with only one result anywhere on the internet) when I first searched for it. Google confirmed my suspicion that sinu placido meant a calm basin of the sea to Pliny the Elder, rather than a pleasant strand of beach, as I had initially translated it.
Over the past five years of Carmen translation and research I've made thousands of Google searches, viewed hundreds of topographic maps, written hundreds of emails, published tens of this blog, tested phrases again and again in Translate (though it's no where near as good as William Whitaker's WORDS), and enjoyed the shared music, lessons and ideas on YouTube.
I don't suppose Larry Page and Sergey Brin follow this blog. But then we never really know if our prayers are heard either. Sometimes it is enough to be grateful. Being grateful is an act of generosity not just to the object of your gratitude but to yourself, reminding yourself that others are engaged with you on the journey of discovery and help you each and every day. So yeah, Google, thanks.